[URBANTH-L] CFP: Slavery, Migration, and Contemporary Bondage in Africa (UK)

Angela Jancius jancius3022 at comcast.net
Wed Nov 19 12:09:18 EST 2008

Call for Papers and Participation

Slavery, Migration, and Contemporary Bondage in Africa
23-25th of September 2009 

Wilberforce Institute, Hull, UK

The Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation,
University of Hull, and the Forced Migration Studies Programme,
University of the Witwatersrand, invite submissions for an
interdisciplinary conference on 'Slavery, Migration, and Contemporary
Bondage in Africa'. This conference will focus on linkages between the
history of slavery and migration in Africa and contemporary forms of
bondage, such as child labour, chattel slavery, child soldiers, descent
based discrimination, and human trafficking and the exploitation of
migrants. Eight travel bursaries are available for early career scholars
based in and/or from Africa.


The history of slavery and abolition is not confined to the Americas,
but also extends to millions of slaves in Africa, Asia and the Middle
East. When the Trans-Atlantic slave trade finally came to an end in the
1860s, both slavery and slave trading remained widespread across most of
Africa. Prior to the colonial 'scramble' of the late nineteenth century,
African slaves represented more than a third of the population in some
parts of the continent. During this period, the need to abolish slavery
and slave trading featured prominently amongst self-serving
justifications for wars of colonial conquest, but once European
authority was firmly established this anti-slavery rhetoric quickly gave
way to cautious incrementalism. Under colonial rule, slavery in Africa
experienced a 'slow death' that was frequently measured in decades,
rather than years. It remains an open question, however, whether the
legal abolition of slavery can be regarded as a clear break with the
past. Once slave labour was renounced, colonial agents turned to closely
related forms of exploitation, such as forced, bonded and indentured
labour, which could be more brutal and exploitative than indigenous
slave systems. When controls on movement associated with slavery came to
an end, political elites turned to other instruments to take their
place, such as 'vagrancy' laws, migration schemes, and racially and
ethnically defined barriers.

The events of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century can be
connected to more recent developments in continental Africa in a number
of different ways. In some cases, elements of pre-colonial practices
have persisted to this day. Especially problematic here are countries
such as Mauritania and Niger, where chattel slavery and descent based
discrimination remains an ongoing problem. In a larger number of cases,
contemporary forms of bondage involve an extension and reformulation of
earlier historical models. In many parts of West Africa, human
traffickers have been able to manipulate local traditions based upon the
placement of poor children with friends and relatives. In countries such
as Sudan and Uganda, recent histories of raiding parties and
'abductions' can be traced to earlier historical precedents. When modern
human rights campaigners object to 'slave chocolate' sourced from parts
of West Africa, they are following in the footsteps of earlier campaigns
against the use of forced labour in cocoa production under Portuguese
colonial rule. When modern migrants find themselves in dangerous and
exploitative conditions, their predicament shares a number of features
in common with earlier victims of colonial exploitation. When African
governments seek to restrict and regulate movement, their approaches
routinely draw upon a series of colonial precedents and templates. In
order to fully evaluate both current problems and future prospects, one
must first understand historical practices.

Slavery, Migration and Contemporary Bondage in Africa

Interested researchers are invited to submit paper proposals based on
one or more of the following themes:


* Similarities and differences in the (ab)use of labour: How have
pre-Colonial, Colonial and Post-Colonial political authorities sought to
organize and regulate labour in Africa?

* Evolving patterns of migration and movement control: How have various
models of political authority sought to regulate, promote and/or
restrict the movement of peoples in Africa?

Social and Economic Formations

* Innovation in exploitation: What factors account for the emergence
and/or further expansion of new forms of bondage following the legal
abolition of slavery across continental Africa?

* The persistence of pre-colonial practices: On what terms can
historical practices be connected to current problems, such as child
labour, descent based discrimination, and/or debt-bondage?

The Past in the Present

* Historical parallels with contemporary problems: What can the history
of slavery, migration and colonial rule in Africa tell us about
contemporary developments and future prospects in Africa?

* The legacies of historical slave systems: How has the history of
slavery, migration and colonialism influenced contemporary patterns of
movement and labour exploitation within Africa?

* Repairing historical wrongs in Africa: What avenues are available to
repair past injustices?

Each of these themes invite scholars who specialise in particular issues
and events to reflect upon the broader significance of their field of
expertise to both the broader history and contemporary prospects of

Submission Information

To submit a paper proposal, please send abstracts of up to 300 words,
together with a current curriculum vitae to wise at hull.ac.uk
<mailto:wise at hull.ac.uk> , by the 28th of February 2009. The organizers
of the conference have also secured eight bursaries for early career
scholars from/based in Africa. These cover flights, accommodation and
conference registration. Applicants for bursaries should apply through
the same procedure outlined above, indicating that they wish to be
considered for a bursary. Final papers of between 6000 and 8000 words
will be expected by the 31st of July 2009. The registration form for the
conference will be available in February 2009. 

Requests for additional information should be directed to either Joel
Quirk at j.quirk at hull.ac.uk  or Darshan Vigneswaran at 
darshan.vigneswaran at wits.ac.za Information on the institutions involved 
be found at http://www.hull.ac.uk/wise and http://www.migration.org.za/ . 
The organizers of the conference plan on publishing a selection of 
conference papers as a special issue of the journal Slavery and Abolition.



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